Posts Tagged With: Energy

UVA Sustainability Days

Thursday11/13 & Friday 11/14 UVA Sustainability Days
Events start at 9:30 am Thursday and end by 2pm Friday.  See schedule for exact times and locations
Take part in UVA Sustainability Days to celebrate and innovate sustainable solutions on Grounds. There will be sustainability-themed events such as a Poster Competition, Film Screening, Zero Waste Workshop, Panel Discussion, Hoos Talking Green, and much more! Please RSVP, as space is limited for some of the events.  Free.  Info. and RSVP at http://www.virginia.edu/sustainability/u-va-sustainability-days/

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Categories: Announcements, Energy Efficiency | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

LEAP Home Energy Checkup

If you’ve been thinking about making your home more energy efficient but don’t know where to start, the Home Energy Checkup from LEAP is a really good and inexpensive way to have a professional check out your home and give you great advice. We just did our house and I had a lot of fun. Our coach was a wealth of knowledge and really friendly; he even insulated some of the pipes in our house free of charge. Overall it was a great experience and helped prioritize projects that will have the greatest effect for the least amount of money. Highly recommended.

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Site Solar Shading Survey App How-to Guide

The first thing you need to do before building any sort of solar-powered project is to figure out how much sun the site receives. Trees, mountains and houses can all block solar energy from reaching whatever you have collecting it. In the olden days you would go out to the site armed with a compass, protractor, cardboard, string and a washer and plot out the obstructions on paper. Now we have some slick apps for android phones and tablets to help us. Here’s a guide for making a Solar Site Survey Chart using apps for android with a little post processing on a computer.

1. Use the Solar Shading app to make a new project and trace the solid horizon. Follow the directions for the app; there is no need to repeat them here.  Make sure that the program knows your position or things will be thrown off. It is important to trace just the mountains and other solid things that aren’t going anywhere because you certainly can’t change those. Use the share icon in the app to export the pdf of the report; it is useful as it is, but we’ll do more with it later.

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2. Use the Solar Shading app to make another new project and trace the “green” horizon. This time, trace the outer edge of all the trees and any other objects that aren’t completely solid. Use the share icon in the app to export the pdf of the report; again, it is useful as it is, but we’ll do more with it later.

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3. Download all of the reports from your phone to a computer.

4. Download a clean solar chart online for the survey location from http://solardat.uoregon.edu/SunChartProgram.html

Sun Chart - Charlottesville

5. Use Photoshop, GIMP, or another image editor that allows the use of layers to superimpose and line up the solar chart made in step 4 over the chart that the app made in step 1. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean horizon on the chart. Hide the chart from step 1.

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6. Now bring the solar chart that the app made in step 2 under the chart built-in step 6 just like you did in step 5. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean “green” horizon on the chart. Hide the chart from step 2. Put some text to let everyone know where in the world the survey was taken and you’re done.

SS - Powerline Trailsummer

7. Doing the survey with the less expensive augmented reality apps SunPlan and Sun Surveyor is a similar process, but is more labor intensive. Use the app to take augmented reality screenshots to create a panorama on a computer later. I like to turn on the winter and summer solstice sun paths in the app because it gives a nice reference point when using them later. It’s a good idea to take a panorama even if you used the Solar Shading app to make the solar chart because it shows what the obstructions are. They are the most valuable together.

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8. Turn the images into a panorama using a panorama maker program like Microsoft ICE. The augmented reality pieces confuse these programs pretty badly, so it’s not going to be flawless. Let me know if you find a way to get a cleaner panorama!

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9. Download a clean solar chart online for the survey location from http://solardat.uoregon.edu/SunChartProgram.html

10. Open Photoshop, GIMP, or another image editor that allows the use of layers to open the chart made in step 9 side by side to the panorama made in step 8. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean horizon on the chart from step 9 using the panorama as a reference. On a new layer use the paintbrush and masks to make a clean “green” horizon on the same chart using the panorama as a reference. Put some text to let everyone know where in the world the survey was taken and you’re done.

Categories: Design, Energy Efficiency, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Vertical Wind Turbine

Now you can build your own vertical wind turbine from parts found at the hardware store and online. Applied-Sciences.net has given all of us open source plans for a DIY vertical wind turbine!

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Biomass Generator

Next time that a big storm hits your town and knocks out the electrical grid, don’t think about how nice it would be to have a gas guzzling, smelly generator to run you fish tank and lava lamps. Think instead of a biomass generator. This interesting technology has seen some  advancements that have made biomass power generation a hands-off operation that users expect from their emergency equipment. Of course, the technology can be used for all sorts of power needs. All Power Labs is a company leading the way in developing this clever technology; they have an interesting past and a bright, progressive future.

The generator first converts woody biomass (like wood chips, acorns, corn husks, etc.) to a gas; this is certainly the most complected step which this guide explains much better than I can. An engine is then used to burn that gas to produce mechanical or electrical power.

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Local Charlottesville Green Resource: Better World Betty

Better World Betty is a local grassroots organization dedicated to empowering people and business with the tools they need to be sustainable. They have really helpful information about how to recycle tricky items, find greener options, and make your everyday life more earth friendly. They also keep tabs on everything effecting the environment in the Charlottesville area and can answer any green questions that you may have!

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A Safe Bet: Energy Efficiency

Here’s a great little article telling of the financial incentives of making your existing place more energy efficient. In a lot of cases, payback on energy improvement renovation investment is just a few years!

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Charlottesville Lunch and Learn: Life Cycle Thinking

Join us at the James River Green Building Council luncheon on Tuesday, July 9th 12:00 — 1:00pm to learn about ways to think more about the total environmental impact of products!

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Charlottesville Lunch Today: Learn About Building Resiliently

Don’t forget to join us today at the James River Green Building Council luncheon on Tuesday, June 11th 12:00 — 1:00pm to learn about how to make our built environments more resilient!

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Design Tool: 2030 Palette

Architecture 2030 is a team of non-profit crusaders that want to radically transform the way that structures are built and how they interact with the environment. The 2030 Challenge is much like the EPA’s very successful CFC reduction program that let the Ozone Hole repair itself. Instead of CFCs, this challenge is to phase out the use of fossil fuels in buildings by the year 2030.

Not to leave everyone hanging wondering how to accomplish this goal; they are developing a great free resource of information on how to build carbon neutral and resilient structures and plan resilient communities which is called the 2030 Palette. The website is complete with pictures, descriptions and rules of thumb for many concepts vital to low impact built environments. Check out this fantastic tool for Architects, Engineers, Owners and people who want to learn more about how our buildings interact with the environment.

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Categories: Architecture, Preservation, Resilience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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